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MTV US grows up

MTV's transformation into a traditional entertainment channel with series like The Osbournes has proved difficult but necessary shift away from music, according to one of its top executives.

Drew Tappon, director of original programming and series development at MTV Networks in the US, said the move towards long-form drama and original commissioned programming had been an inevitable process.

{If we just threw videos on, people would come in and go out again but we wanted them to stick around,{ he told delegates at the inTELEgence 2002 conference in London yesterday.

{When we gave them half-hour programmes they would stick around and advertisers would want to sponsor the shows as well,{ he said. {It was a sticky situation… It was a business decision but kids saw it as a corporate, messed up thing to do.{

Around two-thirds of MTV’s US schedule is originally-commissioned programming, while its sister channel, MTV2, plays wall-to-wall videos.

Tappon said MTV was looking to commission more programmes out of house. Non-MTV produced programming currently accounts for only one or two shows in the US.

{Our production staff are really experienced and can do it in the style we want so [until now] there has been no need to go outside for it. But we will definitely be turning to more outside companies than we have in the past.{

He said he was looking for shows that are {edgier and more outspoken{ than programming on rival channels, but said programme proposals should not forget the basics of {telling a story.{

Tappon said MTV had largely turned its back on short-form, five-minute dramas because audiences and advertisers did not like them – and that the US rating system was unable to cope with such short programmes.

And he said the US network was likely to commission more international programming, even though it had not always found favour with viewers in the past.

The new series of its long-running reality show, The Real World, will be based in Paris, but will have only one European contestant.

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